How to survive the examination period stress

It’s that time of the year. With only two months left to the commencement of the University of London International Programmes (UOLIP) examinations, examination period stress must have set in for students already. I graduated last year but even I’m feeling tense already. Around this time, last year, you could find me in the corner of my house, cramming for exams and panicking like no other. While you will find a lot of posts giving you studying tips, this post is here to give you key tips on how to survive the examination period stress.

Night-time clockFirst and foremost, is SLEEP. Sleep is as important as studying for your examinations, if not more, and I cannot emphasize this enough. When I was doing my A Levels, I decided to pull an all-nighter for my History exam. Here’s what happened. It was an afternoon exam and the syllabus was too long to be revised in a day. So my father sees me studying on the night before the exam, as he peeps into my room before he goes to bed. Eight hours later, at 8 a.m. in the morning, he peeps into my room again, only to see me studying in the same position on the same spot in my room. I continue to study a little longer until I decide to take a power nap. I ended up panicking even more when I couldn’t sleep due to the stress I was in. You can imagine how my exam went. I found it hard to read, let alone think about what I wanted to write during the exam. It was one of my worst experiences ever, and the first and last time that I ever pulled an all-nighter. Since then I have always wondered how people pull all-nighters just before their exam the next day. Studies have shown that sleep deprived students score lower in their exams as it has an adverse impact on learning, concentration and memory. Hence, while you may spend more hours revising the syllabus for your exam, the lack of sleep may actually be doing you more harm than good, not only in terms of higher stress levels and deteriorating overall health but in terms of lower scores as well. Therefore, at least seven hours of sleep is imperative, not only for the night before your exam but for the entire examination period and from the time you start preparing for them.

Fruit bowlHealthy eating and lots of water is something that all millennials tend to underestimate. During the examination period, I would end up eating more junk food because I felt like I ‘deserved’ to be treated for studying all the time. Eating junk food, however, tends to make one feel more lethargic. Beginning the day with a hearty and healthy breakfast is the best way to kick-start your body and mind. Even if you don’t feel like having breakfast, skipping it should not be an option. For the rest of the day, instead of relying on heavy meals, students should adopt a more healthy approach with light and nutritious meals every few hours. As cliché as it may sound, fruit and vegetables is what you should be having. A treat to yourself with your favourite fast food once in a while is permissible though. Keeping yourself hydrated with water (and not Coca Cola) is essential for better concentration. When I was studying, I would keep a jug of water on my study table and keep drinking water from time to time. Although we all tend to increase our intake of caffeine through the numerous cups of coffee and tea to help us stay awake during examinations, studies have shown that excessive caffeine can actually upset our blood sugar levels and hence, concentration. Adequate food coupled with daily exercise will keep your body and mind refreshed. Hitting the gym during the examination period may not be very do-able, but adopting a 15 minute light intensity work-out routine at home at the start of the day can really do wonders. You don’t need a treadmill or cross trainer to fulfil your dose of exercise for the day. All you need is some will power. All this will make you more alert, increase your concentration and save you the stress that can jeopardise your studying process.

Study in blocks of time with breaks ranging from 10 to 30 minutes in between to give yourself some space to relax. You can reserve your 30 minute breaks for meals, spending time with your family, watching your favourite series or catching up on the rest of the world. Occasional breaks are necessary and scientifically proven to help Dont panic buttonboost your productivity and reduce stress levels.

So work hard, follow these tips and take your examinations with a stress-free mind!

Zara studied the BSc (Hons) Economics at a recognised teaching institution, University College of Islamabad (UCI), in Islamabad, Pakistan



2 thoughts on “How to survive the examination period stress

  1. Good tips Zara thank you .. and good luck to all those preparing for their exams.

    I find that nearer the exams it becomes more crucial to use excellent time management and to allocate the time available to the work to be covered.
    The student has to be realistic about the material that they can cover and make bold decisions about what can be missed out (if any). In this way the stress of having to cover more than is possible is relieved and better quality revising can be achieved.

    Another great tip is to start early preparing short revision sheets : what I call the “night before /or the morning of the exam” revision sheets. Since it is impossible to cover pages and pages of material the night of the exam I would prepare a single page for each topic and cram it with the necessary material that must be memorized. I end up with 10-15 pages of material for the whole subject, which is way less intimidating than having a whole file to look at.

    Finally it is important to relax and not panic as the exams approach, and to understand that panicking would only “cost” you to lose important revision time. So use this precious time to your benefit and get rid of any stressful notions through in advance time organization, and healthy eating, sleeping and exercising regimes.

    All the best


  2. Indeed I discovered that a healthy lifestyle reduces much of my exam stress. Usually I will sleep in 3-4 am in the morning and wake up in 12-1 pm. This reduced my normal cycle and ended up making my body more tired which ended more coffee.


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